Our own Jason Jordan is hanging out with Julius Randle, the No. 2 basketball recruit in the class of 2013, who will announce his college decision today at 1 p.m. ET. Here's an inside look at the buildup to the big announcement.
PLANO, Texas -- Julius Randle lies on his back and peers up at the ceiling inside of the Prestonwood Christian Academy gym as sweat beads race down his cheeks and pool on the baseline beneath him.
He breathes heavier and heavier as his personal trainer Tyler Relph slams the ball down and screams at him to start another drill that’s so tough Randle’s not supposed to actually be able to complete it.
The fact that he does has him dreadfully tired. Devoid of all energy. His legs are feeling heavier by the second, and it’s not even 7:30 a.m..
“Let’s go J!” says Relph, who played at St. Bonaventure from 2003-05. “Come on, I’m with you. Let’s go!”
In less than five hours, Randle will slip into a snazzy outfit, fully equipped with a Burberry belt, and sit at a table at the school’s field house with fitted caps from Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Florida sprawled in front of him.
Then he’ll look into the ESPNU cameras and tell three schools thanks but no thanks, pick up a cap and make that school a legitimate title contender for next season.
“That’s the hard part,” Randle says. “I’d much rather be here. I’d much rather be working.”
This gym is Randle’s sanctuary.
It’s where he rehabbed a fractured foot that kept him sidelined for most of the season only to come back in the final five games and average 28.8 points and 15 rebounds to lead Prestonwood to its second straight state title.
It’s where he went from being a so-so ball handler to an ankle-breaking highlight reel. Where his deep ball graduated from mechanically challenged to marksman-esque.
It’s where he went from a good player with loads of potential to Julius Randle, the country’s second best player according to Rivals.com, and a lock for the 2014 NBA draft lottery according to every major draft board.
“The only thing that’s certain is that I’ve got to work harder,” Randle says. “I don’t even think about any of that other stuff. I’m so ready to get this decision over with. It’s been too crazy. I’m only excited about it because I know I’ll be able to do what I’m doing right now without any distractions.”
“Forget all that,” Relph says. “Let’s go. We’ve got five makes from each spot then we’ll head over to the field house and let the world know you’re going to St. Bonaventure. Let’s go!”
Randle bursts into laughter. Then slams the ball into his palms.
“Aight man,” he says with a smile. “I’ll finish this then I’ll join the Bonnies. Gotcha!”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSATODAY.